Tag Archives: honesty

Excuses

Creativity is a wonderful thing. We see it everywhere. It shows up in some interesting places … like when parents come up with excuses for their kids:

“Please excuse Josh for being absent. I forgot to wake him up and I did not find him until I started making the beds — by then it was too late for him to go to school.”

“John didn’t come to school yesterday because he was feeling like he was going to be sick. Thankfully, he wasn’t!”

“Please excuse Janet’s absence from school. It was Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Since I don’t have a job, I made her stay home and do housework.”

“Please excuse Ricky from school yesterday. He spilled gasoline on his stomach and I was afraid he might explode.”

“Please excuse Mary for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch and when we found it on Monday, we thought it was Sunday.”

Excuse is defined as an attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); to seek to defend or justify.

We’ve all done it. We have tried to excuse ourselves for something we have or haven’t done. We would like to justify ourselves or simply get off the hook in an embarrassing or an uncomfortable situation.

Eve had an excuse: It was the serpent’s fault. Adam had an excuse: It was Eve’s fault.

Somebody has to take the fall (pun intended). One of the marks of maturity is when we own our thoughts, words, and deeds. We live in a shaming/blaming society where it seems to get easier to point to someone or something else.

My mom, and probably yours, used to say that when you point your finger at someone else, you still have four fingers pointed back to you. Lord, help us to take responsibility for our own lives!

No, you don’t have to

You don’t have to cheat. Then, why is so much cheating going on? The Rio Olympics is not the first games to be tainted by cheaters. If the IOC wasn’t so corrupt, an entire nation’s Olympic team would have been banned. State-sponsored cheating!

Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens … just a few names from the world of baseball who have been called out for cheating. Football, basketball, cycling, racing, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey … the list grows. Wait a minute! Someone cheats at pin-the-tail-on-the- donkey? A little girl was asked how she had gotten so good at the game. She never lost. Her answer was simple: “I peek.”

We know cheating touches every area of our lives. Spouses cheat on each other. People cheat on their taxes. Businesses sacrifice ethics. Students grab grades they didn’t earn. Builders cut corners in construction. If people think they can away with it, they tend to cheat.

Do we get away with it? It might seem so, but there is always an accounting. Remember this old story? A young preacher found himself in a dilemma. Two brothers were occasional attenders at his church. These men were powerful and rich. In the small town where they lived, they ruled. They were known for shady business practices, monopolizing the market by lies, intimidation, and thievery. One of the brothers died. The other one came to see the preacher. The conversation went like this: “Preacher, I want to biggest and best funeral this town has ever seen. I want you to tell the people what a fine, upstanding man my brother was. You tell ‘em my brother was a saint. If you do it right, I’ll pay off the debt on this new building you’ve built.”

It didn’t take that pastor long to decide how he would handle the service. The church was packed. People wanted to hear what could possibly be said about a man with such an unsavory reputation. The pastor got up to give the eulogy: “Brother Smith was a hard man. He lied and cheated and wrecked the lives of hard-working folks in our town. But next to his brother, he was a saint.”

We don’t have to cheat. We could recall Paul’s words to the Colossians: “And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). Let’s do the right thing for the right reason.

Spin

Spin. It has become a part of public dialogue. Someone has defined it as propaganda or a creative interpretation of events or deflection from potentially controversial topics or playing loosely with the truth or crafted bias.

Here’s an example: “If you put aside this Macondo incident, 2009 was the best year we’d had, and 2010 was also heading in that direction.” Those were the words of BP CEO Bob Dudley used to describe the trajectory of his company. Macondo was the well that dumped 210 million gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, creating an environmental and economic catastrophe that affected millions of lives and cost billions of dollars. 11 people who worked on the Deep Horizon rig were never found.

“So, other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

I guess we can all be guilty of spin. There are times when we try to cover a mistake, exaggerate a story, make excuses, or try to make ourselves look better. Our personal histories can get a bit clouded, like the guy who admitted, “The older I get, the better I was.”

History is full of spin, usually told through the eyes of the victor, the more powerful, the one writing. Christians have been accused of spin through the centuries. To some, the Bible is just a collection of 66 books full of spin. The story of Jesus has often been assaulted as history’s greatest spin.

Think about it. It couldn’t have happened the way the Gospels spin it. Let’s review some of the criticism: (1) There was no such historical figure as Jesus; (2) Jesus was a simple man, a teacher, perhaps a prophet, but nothing more: (3) The miracle stories were concocted to make Jesus look bigger, better; (4) Jesus did not die on the cross – he swooned, he recovered, they used a substitute; (5) The disciples stole his body and hid it, then told fantastic stories about a resurrection; (6) The appearances post-death can be attributed to mass hallucinations.

There are plenty more. To sum it up, I think men like C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell had it right. Jesus was either liar, lunatic, or Lord. No spin. A great deal rides on the answer people choose.

He is risen. He is risen indeed.

Listen to the children

Most of us went to Vacation Bible School when we were children. Some parents spend the summer taking their kids to one VBS after another – good solution to childcare when school is out. By August, those children could run their own VBS.

I am always amazed at children’s insights and ideas. While talking about Elijah and his dealings with evil King Ahab, I asked “What is a prophet?” One girl was quick to answer: “A prophet is like an alarm clock. He’s supposed to wake people up.” You couldn’t get a better answer in seminary, from a student or a professor.

Someone shared these gems with me:

  • A Sunday School teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan. She asked her students, “If you saw a person lying by the road, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?” One young lady broke the hushed silence: “I think I’d throw up.”
  • The class of youngsters was challenged to memorize Psalm 23. When the time came to see how the kids were doing, one young man named Rick was called upon. He had had a really hard time memorizing those six verses and was very nervous when his name was chosen. Stifling his fear, he spoke with conviction: “The Lord is my shepherd, and that’s all I need to know.”
  • The pastor’s five year-old daughter had noticed that her dad always bowed his head for a few moments before beginning his sermon. Curious, she asked him why. “Well, honey,” he explained, “I’m asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon.” She took that in and then said, “How come He doesn’t answer it?”
  • Johnny and his family were having Sunday dinner at his grandmother’s home. When everyone was seated and the food was being passed, little Johnny began eating his food. His mother spoke up quickly, “Johnny, we haven’t said a prayer yet.” He responded, “I don’t need to say a prayer.” His mother wasn’t happy: “Of course we need to pray. We always say a prayer before we eat at our house.” Johnny didn’t skip a beat, “That’s at our house. But this is Grandma’s house and she knows how to cook.” No word if Johnny survived to adulthood.

Yes, they can be brutally honest. But they can also open our eyes and hearts to the world they see and are trying to understand. Do they need to listen to us? Of course, we are wise and worldly. We know most, if not all, the answers, right? Perhaps we need to hang around kids more and listen to them. We just might learn something.

 

A Minute with Mark – The Price of a Man

At Wieuca, we’ve just started a series called “The Power of One” – a study of how our lives can impact our world. What’s important to you as you try to make good decisions? For most of us, we realize that character counts. We need people around us who are dependable, loyal, honest, and consistent, right? We need to be people like that, right?

 

We don’t need to be like this … a gangster was charged with murder. His buddies told him not to worry. They were going to fix things so he could off. They found a man on the jury who had indicated that he was willing to accept a bribe for his vote. After the closing arguments, the accused sent word through one of his lackeys, thanking the tainted juror for his efforts. Instead of murder one, the charge had been reduced to manslaughter. The crooked man wasn’t willing to rest without comment. He sent a message back telling the gangster that it was tough convincing the other jurors: “It was really hard. The others wanted to acquit you, but I held out for manslaughter, just like you wanted.”

 

With friends like that …

 

The Prodigal Son in Luke 15 found out how easy it was to buy friends, and how easy it was to lose friends you buy. They say everybody has a price. For Judas, it was thirty pieces of silver, the price of a common slave.

 

Jesus had a price. Satan thought it was easy to buy Jesus, so he offered Christ enticements thinking Jesus could be bought. Yes, Jesus had a price. He was willing to pay the highest price we could imagine for one sinner, for all sinners. What a deal! He accepted sin with all its devastation and horror in exchange for something He considered priceless – your soul and mine. “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for His friends” (John 15:13). He said those words, then He went out and did it.